2016 Revision of Beginning Bridge Book 1
In order to start a, perhaps lively, discussion, here is the text of a letter that I recently sent to EBED.
This past year we, at Beckenham Bridge Club, have been running a beginners course using the revised EBED Beginning Bridge Book 1. Two years ago, we ran a similar course using the previous version of the book. We found the older version an excellent basis for our course but, I am sorry to say, I am very disappointed with the new edition and find that nearly all the changes have made the book poorer.
Above all else, beginners to bridge need clarity and consistency. Furthermore, they need a body of examples that conform accurately to the system they are learning. Unfortunately, the changes have spoiled the book in these respects.
Opening 1NT with a 5 card major. The new version instructs opening 1NT with ALL balanced hands, including those with a 5 card major (p.26). Yet the examples contradict this (see p.45, Hand 1; p. 51, Hand 1; p. 52 Hand 7 – in this last the contradiction is explicit). It is also explicitly contradicted by the advice on p. 116 and the reference to 5 card minors on p.153 is wrong. A similar problem arises with changing the requirement for a 1NT overcall to 15-17 from 16-18. Now East’s hand in Example 4 on p. 110 is no longer a “minimum” 1NT overcall. I am not just complaining about the lack of revision of some of the examples. There is a vast store of hands and articles (including Sally Brock’s), on the EBED site and elsewhere and also the excellent No Fear Bridge, all using the previous scheme. Even if this small tinkering with the system had some advantages (though on the whole we think the opposite) it cannot be worth the disadvantage of sowing doubt and uncertainty when learners access the available body of examples.
The new Chapter 7 is now very confusing for learners. To try to teach both strong and weak 2 bids to beginners is a total fiasco. The book has to get off the fence and teach one or the other. If there is a demand for both to be included, they should be in quite separate independent alternative sections. To tell beginners learning weak 2’s to use strong 2’s in fourth position is a disaster.
The altering of the order of topics without making appropriate changes in the text is unfortunate. This is mainly the case with Stayman. Telling learners to use Stayman over an opening 2NT and even including examples (pp.115, 122 and 125) cannot come before the chapter on Stayman. Also, logically, pre-emptive bidding should come just after competitive bidding when the learners can see how effective it can be in hands where otherwise good contracts are easily reached. Certainly, if the weak 2 option is taught, it does not help to be told that a weak 2 is a ”mini pre-empt” (p. 120) if this comes before the chapter on pre-empts.
I feel that the revision has not been properly thought out and certainly the changes have not been followed through. Tarting it up with graphics of post-it notes does not compensate.